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Old 03-23-2011, 12:43
freemanjud freemanjud is offline
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Night and Fog and its indelible impression (due Thu Mar 24)

You will not soon forget that you saw Night and Fog (1955). It's a film that leaves an indelible impression, even though many, many films have been made on the same subject in subsequent years. The narration was written by the poet Jean Cayrol, a non-Jewish Holocaust survivor who had published the book Poems of Night and Fog back in 1945. The film was presented at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, but the German government requested that it be withdrawn, arguing that it would hinder the reconciliation process that was underway 10+ years after the war. (And if you think about it, 10 years is not that long a time--we are soon to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11). Later that year, the German parliament agreed that the film would be a useful educational tool and for a few years, that was the only way to see the film: through 200 educational copies. In 1959, the film was shown on French television for the first time.

As one critic wrote, Night and Fog has to be one the most powerful essays on the inexplicability and banality of evil.

Night and Fog was the first "feature" film on the Holocaust, walking that grey line between documentary and something oddly poetic and macabre. I find that it is an incredibly effective teaching tool, even though we will need to discuss why it is dated and why there is controversy about the film.

And yes, the film was controversial. It reflects the thinking at the time--that human fat was allegedly turned into soap (a contention made at the Nuremberg trials in 1946 but subsequently found not to be the case), that human skin was turned into lampshades and material for artists to use (not clear), etc. On the other hand, it shows what appears to be miles and miles of human hair, used in the manufacture of a kind of felt blanket. And bones--fertilizer? Yes, ash from bones used as fertilizer. 9 million was the number du jour in 1955; that evolved into 11 million civilian victims, of which approximately 6 million were Jews. Most significantly, the original narrative never mentioned Jews and their specific fate and there was an outcry in many quarters regarding that lack of a reference. There are many people who argue that the film should not be shown in a classroom for these reasons, among many.

I disagree. And what I would simply ask you to reflect on here is this: was this film powerful for you? What made an impression (specifically)? And what was your general opinion of the film overall?
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Old 03-23-2011, 20:45
sodapop sodapop is offline
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Yes, this film was very powerful. It used real footage, which made it more disturbing, in some respects, than a movie that uses actors to portray what happened. The photos of the starving naked bodies, the videos of the deadly skinny people laying on beds heavily breathing with their eyes wide open, of miles of human hair, the gruesome photos of dead bodies piled on top of each other, of human heads, of bodies burned, being bulldozed, was undeniably powerfully disturbing, and all true. These images, along with the emotional narration, made the effective impression that makes the movie worth seeing. If certain parts are inaccurate, those can be explained by the teacher showing the movie. It is important to understand why there were inaccuracies in people's assumptions of the Holocaust. It can be a valuable learning experience to understand why such information was not clear. The live footage that is indeed true however, is very valuable in coming closer to understanding the horrors of the Holocaust.
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Old 03-23-2011, 21:21
Evelyn Evelyn is offline
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This film was extremely powerful for me. Like Ms. Freeman said, at first I didnít get why it was so powerful. There were just pictures of buildings and the narrator describing the predicament of the Holocaust. But the film got very graphic very fast and soon I found myself unable to watch without a gasp and with my hand over my mouth. Something about this film was so intriguing however, and I found myself glued to the screen. The images of the dead and the mutilated and deathly skinny bodies really effected me. It was so sickening and disturbing and left images in my head long after class was over. Even though this film was EXTREMELY disturbing, this film did such a good job showing the reality of the holocaust. I think that this film is vital to the teaching of WWII and should be shown in all WWII classes to kids of a certain age.
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Old 03-24-2011, 00:06
pineapple15 pineapple15 is offline
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I definitely agree that in order to fully understand the horrors of what people went through in concentration and death camps, it is necessary to show something like Night and Fog in a classroom. I agree with what sodapop said, that if some things in the movie are inaccurate, those things can be explained by the teacher. That should be no reason to ban something so powerful and enlightening from the classroom. This film was very powerful for meóafter seeing the man lying down on an operating table, completely exposed in every aspect and with legs made of just flesh and bone, clearly suffering to death, I think thatís the point where it hit me that all of this was 100% real. Iíve never seen a film so grotesque in my life, and probably never will, but even so, the overall film was definitely worth watching. I know I will never forget the images in it.
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Old 03-24-2011, 00:21
moonshiner moonshiner is offline
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There were two things that really got me:

The first was the film of a guy's foot/ankle being bandaged. With the skin having been burnt somehow from the whole area, I started thinking about how incredibly painful that must have been. I stub my toe and yell out in pain, but that's nothing.

Second came the bulldozing scenes. It's one thing to see still photos of dead bodies lying in ditches or even footage of mass graves, but to see the bodies moving, to see the heads lolling lifelessly, to see the way the sun hit the ones with wounds, was just sickening.

I think everyone agrees that Night and Fog was worth watching, no matter how graphic.
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Old 03-24-2011, 00:33
pinklady1978 pinklady1978 is offline
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I thought the film was extremely powerful. What specifically made an impression on me was when it showed all of the dead bodies that were piled up on top of each other being bulldozed into a large ditch and being covered with dirt (which previously was shown that they sometimes made fertilizer from the bodies). The fact that the bodies where so emaciated and mutilated was greatly disturbing, but the reality that once living human beings where being dumped and actually bulldozed like it was nothing made it worse. The film is definitely important to show in class at school because it shows the horrors of what truly happened in the Holocaust. It also shows how destructive humans can be and what we are truly capable of, and to be knowledgeable that these injustices exist. The one problem I had with the film was that I didn’t think the commentary did any justice to the severity of the images that were being shown. I obviously know nothing about filmmaking, but I think it would have been more powerful without it or if the words being spoken were different. Regardless, words or no words, the film overall opened my eyes even more to the horrors of what happened in the Holocaust, and I agree with pineapple15 that I will definitely never forget the images that were shown.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:22
freddykrueger freddykrueger is offline
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I found the film to be especially powerful for two reasons. The first and obvious one would be the content of the film. It didnít tip toe around anything; it showed clear footage of what it was talking about. To make an understatement, this footage was gruesome. Dead shriveled up bodies and body parts, people starving, the ďbulldozingĒ sequence everyone has mentioned, etc. These images have been stuck in my head today. The second reason it was powerful is the same reason Triumph Of The Will was powerful. It was artistically superb. It was chronological, it tied the present with the past with eerily shot images of the camps years later, and best of all it had excellent commentary. This commentary was as you said, poetic. It captured the idea of the camps. The words captured a feeling that is very hard to explain. The film reflected on what happened, while still saying, ďlook, this happened and it was real.Ē I agree with what has been said; I think it should be used in classrooms, but I think that the students should know about its errors and controversies.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:24
starberry starberry is offline
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The film was very powerful. I can't imagine anyone saying that the Holocaust didn't exist, because the entire film was pure evidence. The image of the miles of hair stick with me. I wonder at the pain and the shame that must have been felt. The pictures of the starved bodies, of the dead with their eyes wide open, it's truly inhumane. I completely agree with moonshiner and pinklady1978. I remember the bodies being bulldozed into a pit most vividly. I immediately thought: "what disrespect!", but the film's most powerful aspect is the narration. The narration emphasized on the disrespect for human life, humans are capable of expressing; on how everyone can be the murderer and can deny responsibility. Ordinary images that look so peaceful and calm, a narrator reminds us of the horrors behind them. You wonder, why are should they remain? They look so ordinary: they are so deceiving, so horrible, but they are necessary reminders for everyday for the future of what humankind is capable of.
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:27
yellow1 yellow1 is offline
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Night and Fog is definitely an incredibly powerful film which I believe is very important to the teaching and learning of the Holocaust. One aspect of the film that I found very moving was the contrast between the color and black-and-white scenes, which I thought really showed how a place which at present may have some semblance of normalcy or calm, was once a place of pure torture, destruction, and horror.

What made the greatest impact on me, however, were the clips of the emaciated, lifeless bodies rolling over each other while being bulldozed into ditches. Moonshiner described the great difference between seeing still shots of dead bodies and mass graves, an already extremely powerful image, but to see these bodies moving makes you feel even more. the way that these masses of bodies were moved around just the same way that dirt or garbage is moved around was incredibly disturbing.

I agree with pinklady1978 in that the only thing about this film that I did not really connect with was the narration. I found the fact that there were no actors made the film even more moving, but I did not think that the way the narration was delivered had a very powerful effect because it was almost too matter-of-fact, not invoking the same intense emotion that the images themselves invoke.
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Old 03-27-2011, 22:38
ahhnotasobvious ahhnotasobvious is offline
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Fog n' Nite

I thought this film was definitely powerful. It captured real events that occurred during the Holocaust. We live very comfortable lives in comparison to those who were held as prisoners by the Nazis obviously and even in comparison to most people in the present day we also live very well. We can read all we want about what occurred during the Holocaust and we can try to empathize and imagine what it would have been like, but that is not enough to gain a realistic feel of it. With this upfront footage of the horrific acts done torwards these people, it really makes one only more astonished. This movie allows one to actually see what occurred in motion, not even just as a still, truly terrifying. What made an impression to me was the bucket full of decapitated heads. Iíve never seen anything real like that, how could one stoop so low as to treat a human corpse like that? Another thing that got to me was when the Nazis were focred to clean up the bodies. Those bodies were disgusting to look at. They were skeletons basically with a thin layer of skin wrapped over them. Itís worse than seeing an actual skeleton because you know the people imprisoned had to live like that. I thought the film was definitely worth watching. It showed the live action footage of a highly discussed topic in school. It really gets one to understand how terrible this really was. Itís important to show because this event was a huge deal which affected almost the whole world. When you think about it, it didnít even happen so long ago; it has only been 80 years or so. People who lived through it are still well and alive to tell the tale and even in the spectrum of time, 80 years is nothing.
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Old 03-28-2011, 00:37
GrilledCheese GrilledCheese is offline
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This film was incredibly powerful to me and a great tool for teaching about the Holocaust. While there are some errors resulting from this film being made so quickly after the Holocaust, this is also its greatest strength. Seeing the immediate after effects at the concentration camps was a unique look for me. The most disturbing and unforgettable images for me were of the bulldozers pushing the bodies into the ditches. The sheer number of corpses and the way they were moving along the ground as they were pushed made me feel sick. I think Night and Fog is an amazing film and should always be considered an important resource for learning about the Holocaust.
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:23
mineola mineola is offline
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Though Night and Fog may contain several false statements, I still found this documentary to be incredibly effective. I thought that the director of this film did a great job combining photographs, film taken during the war, and film taken during the fifties to create a haunting documentary. This film was also unlike any other documentary on the Holocaust that I have seen; it did not focus on pure facts and did not contain eyewitness accounts or interviews with historians. Instead, due mainly to the narrative, written by a French poet and Holocaust survivor, focused more on giving giving the viewer a brief overview of the horrors and terrors of the Holocaust. As this film was the first to come out following these horrific events, it seemed to be designed to introduce the viewer to the facts of the Holocaust.
I did find some of the images shown in Night and Fog to be disturbing; the shots of the piles of hair and the images of a bulldozer pushing countless numbers of bodies were terrifying. Though this images alone are disturbing, I believe that the narrative written to go along with the images greatly heightened the effectiveness of the documentary. As the narrative was written by a poem, I thought that the words were haunting. All in all, I thought that this documentary was definitely worth watching, and is one that I will remember for a long time.*
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Old 03-28-2011, 15:31
starburst starburst is offline
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This film was definitely, definitely powerful for me. I was on the verge of tears. Seeing the raw footage from the Holocaust itself was extremely powerful. The narrator also did a good job because his words made the film even more powerful than it was. Seeing what the camp is like today was different. Seeing grass and flowers instead of dead bodies was emotional for me, just to think that a place like that once existed. I would say the film prepared me well for the Holocaust Museum. Though there may be some errors in the film, I agree that the film should be shown in high school. Students should be able to see exactly how terrible this incident was.
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Old 03-28-2011, 21:39
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MonkeysEatToo MonkeysEatToo is offline
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I found the film, Night and Fog, to have a very moving and powerful message. It captured the severity and brutality that the Jews underwent without shying away from the gruesome images. I think the specific details that were included in the film made the most impression on me. While I knew that the Holocaust was a traumatic experience, the images that were more macabre spoke to me in a whole new level. I couldn't fathom the actions that were done to the Jews. They way they were treated is unspeakable. I will forever remember the headless bodies, skulls, piled bodies, malnourished children, and the many other torturous acts inflicted upon the Jews. There was no humanity placed upon them even when their bodies were being discarded. These graphic images tell the story of the Holocaust in a much more horrific manner than we could have never imagined before. The film captured many details of the Holocaust that has never been heard of before (for me at least) which made it much more compelling. While I left in shock and dismay after watching the film, I am appreciative for having witnessed a more unmentioned part of the Holocaust.
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Old 03-29-2011, 13:56
cts05763 cts05763 is offline
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I found Night and Fog to be extremely powerful. The images from the film are haunting and I think that I will remember them for a very very long time. The fact all footage in the film is real is what I find most powerful. Every single one of those starving naked people were real innocent victims who used to live normal lives. I find it disgusting how casually the Nazis documented all of this horrific abuse. I think this film is an extremely powerful teaching tool and proves the realities of the Holocausts to anyone with doubts or who just couldn't imagine it. This film also shows how methodical all of cruelty was. The scene with the bull dozing and the scene with the ovens almost made the concentration camps seem like factories, which is terrifying. This film should definitely be shown in classes, especially since there are so few Holocaust survivors left. It is important that the gruesome details of the Holocaust are never forgotten. That being said, I do agree with everyone else that any factual discrepancies and/ or controversies should be discussed with any showing of this film.
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Old 03-30-2011, 00:16
laxaddict93 laxaddict93 is offline
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This stuff still blows my mind

Night and Fog was one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, film I have ever seen. The raw terror and subsequent death that it captures without bias is amazing, as well as shocking. Most films that I have seen about the Holocaust usually show the prisoners alive crowded around in the camp, or being taken into the camp, but I had honestly never seen footage of bodies being bulldozed into mass graves, or close-ups of the victims inside the pit. The grotesqueness of each death is enough to shock even the toughest of people, both in the physical and emotional sense. However, I think the reason it is most powerful is the contrast the movie brings as to how much fear and terror and death took place in that area at one time, and how peaceful it seemed today. For me, the movie was definitely both important and powerful because it took everything that happened in the Holocaust throughout Nazi Europe, from the rounding up of Jews, to their delivery to the death camps, to the actual killing of the Jews, and the eventual disposal of the bodies, and compacted it into a small time frame, giving you all the raw footages to show how savage, yet grimly efficient the death of 6.5 million people really was.
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Old 03-30-2011, 14:16
AmericanEagle5 AmericanEagle5 is offline
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Unfortunately for me, I am suffering from what Ms. Freeman mentioned in class as "Holocaust fatigue". I am convinced that Night and Fog really isn't anything we haven't seen before. We have seen the same documentary again and again, and I don't feel like this one was as significant. I admit, it is powerful. I was particularly stunned by the pictures of the headless bodies, and one body that had a whole where his eye should have been. Other than these images, however, I don't think Night and God was anything particularly special.
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Old 04-01-2011, 10:28
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ellendegeneres ellendegeneres is offline
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When I first saw this film a few weeks ago, I was shocked by some of the footage. I questioned its authenticity because i couldn't believe that there were people with cameras in some of those places. The worst part was in the aftermath when the bulldozers were shoving broken emaciated bodies into pits because there was nothing else that could be done. I didn't know there were people with cameras there when people were being loaded into the trains. The contrast between the images of Auschwitz ten years later and then during the holocaust was very powerful and made me really nervous about going there next month. I didn't really realize the power of the place after so much time. i was really moved by the examples of the things prisoners made, like the monster sculpture and the dolls. The video images from the 'hospital' were another thing that i couldn't believe existed. Who would have been behind the camera? Was it a journalist, or an SS man, or one of the sadistic doctors?
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Old 04-24-2011, 22:41
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Night and Fog

As everyone else is saying, the film was very powerful. I couldn't stomach the fact that anyone would say the Holocaust didn't exist because all you saw was evidence. The starved bodies.. the glazed over look in the eyes of the dead bodies.. strand upon strand of hair from all different age groups. As the drivers of the bulldozers just threw bodies into pits of death, I couldn't believe that Nazis would just do what they did and not feel any sort of way. While not something that I would want to go and watch again, I think that it serves as a powerful reminder of what extremes can be found in mankind, and that because something like this happened, we need to do all we can to prevent it from happening again.
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Old 04-25-2011, 23:13
golfmaniac golfmaniac is offline
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Unhappy Clearing From The Fog

This film as my fellow peers made clear was extremely powerful due to not only its careful and particular choice of words, but also the vivid and horrific images and portions of video shown. Although the movie was in French, having the English subtitles encouraged the audience to focus on the screen; on both the descriptions and images in the film. At times difficult to concentrate on both, it was moving and emotionally a shock to see the real footage from that time and place. Often, there is the misconception, which I know I was guilty of, that there was no film in the '40s or atleast no footage of the acts carried out. However, this was very proof that all of this was documented. I was horrified and even disgusted as I watched the actual shootings into the mass graves, the use of the crematoriums, and the images of the Jewish peoples' belongings being plowed into one enormous pile. I could go on for hours about the images used and how powerful they are, but what's even more important to me is their purpose. This film, despite many's refusal to show it for educational purposes, is a brutally honest example of how these people were tortured and scarred for the rest of their lifetime. Many read about the horrible treatment, yet Night and Fog puts all of the words and descriptions right into the audience's laps.
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